If you like Johnny Depp, then you're like
everyone else, practically. He's done great work over the years
and has consistently managed to find himself interesting and quirky
characters to portray.
This time, Johnny Depp is playing the role of Willy Wonka, made famous
on the big screen by Gene Wilder.
Based on the book by Roald Dahl, this film tries to take a different
view of the eccentric candy man than the 1971 movie (Willy Wonka and
the Chocolate Factory) did.
Except, it doesn't, really.
Tim Burton is the director of this film. It definitely looks
and feels like a Tim Burton movie -- that is to say, there are
absolutely lush visuals and set designs. Everything -- from
Charlie Bucket's dilapidated home (amazing) to the spectacles to be seen
inside the chocolate factory (fantabulous) -- has the Tim Burton touch.
Of course, you'd expect that it would have the Tim Burton darkness
about it, too. This is a bit of a shocker. The Gene Wilder
film had quite a bit of darkness to it...his Willy Wonka was charming
yet...creepy. The Masked Reviewer had expected the Johnny Depp/Tim
Burton version to be downright evil. But...it was in many ways
sweeter. The character of Willy Wonka was explored more, through
amusing tidbits that were some of the highlights of the film.
However, this version of the film is supposed to be more about
Charlie, and we don't really learn an awful lot about Charlie, other
than that he's poor and a good kid.
Because both films are based on the same source material, there's a
lot of overlap. People familiar with the first film will see a lot
of familiar scenes...the trouble is that it's an awful lot like it was
the first time around. The sets are more spectacular this time,
but the events feel a bit too familiar.
The music, provided by Danny Elfman, is distinctively Danny Elfman.
Since this is a musical (sort of), the music gets a lot of attention.
The theme is fine, but the songs in the movie seem to deteriorate into a
Danny Elfman Rock Opera...it's not bad...it's just sort of out of place.
They try to use the music for laughs in some places, and it doesn't
always work. Nothing is as catchy or memorable as in the original
movie (like the Oompa-Loompa song). Worse still, all of the songs
that have vocals (done by Danny Elfman himself) are almost entirely
incomprehensible. Why have lyrics if you can't understand them?
Johnny Depp, as expected, steals the show. His Willy Wonka
is...creepy. It's kind of like a bit of the Church Lady on
"Saturday Night Live", mixed with Carol Channing. Mixed with
Michael Jackson. He's in many ways a more simple creation than
Gene Wilder's Willy Wonka...Johnny Depp is more innocent and a victim of
his upbringing. But, he's still weird.
A lot of people (including the Masked Reviewer) were very
excited at the prospect of Johnny Depp playing Willy Wonka in this Tim
Burton remake. However, the trailers that came out seemed to sap a
lot of that enthusiasm. The movie is considerably better than the
trailers seem to suggest.
The other performances are solid across the board. Christopher
Lee and David Kelly are two standouts, but all of the children and
parents do a great job.
It's perhaps a bit long, but the visuals and comedic moments make it
worth a look. Probably not as good as Gene Wilder's verison, but
Tim Burton and/or Johnny Depp fans will find plenty to enjoy -- at the
very least, you can play "identify all the people in the movie who
worked with Tim Burton before."
Expectation from the Title: When a viet-cong guerilla happens
to find a large munitions plant in the middle of the jungle, he's
shocked to discover that it's made entirely of chocolate.
Mother's Rule (Always Say Something Good About Everything):
Poor Johnny Depp seems so troubled in this movie. He should have
some of his own candy. But not too much.
The Pros: Great acting, amazing sets, some nice visuals.
A few good laughs.
The Cons: Music is a let down. Johnny Depp has a tough
time avoiding comparisons to Gene Wilder, and that's a tough match-up
for anyone to win. A bit long.
Jonny Depp, Johnny Dep,
Willy Wonka and the Chcolate Factory, Lee Evans all here.